Immigrant Integration in Federal Countries

Immigrant integration has taken on a much greater salience in both traditionally immigrant receiving countries and more recent receiving countries, including some federations in the developing world, such as India, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.  In federal countries (and the EU) both orders of government can have relevant competencies. Increasingly, there is a need to find ways to coordinate and harmonize laws, policies, standards and programs.

The Forum program on immigration, started in 2009, is a comparative study of policies and programs for immigrant integration viewed from the perspective of federalism. It examines the variations in immigrant integration policies and in the pattern of responsibility among the different orders of government within seven federations – Canada, the United States, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Spain. It also explores the degree to which policies and responsibilities have changed as the issue of immigrant integration has risen on the public agenda during the past decade.

Although the concept is defined in various ways, this project focuses on immigrant integration as the means to allow newcomers to participate in the economic, social and civic life of the host country. This is viewed as a two-way process: acquiring these capacities is the responsibility not only of newcomers but also the host society and its institutions. The project focuses on policy instruments to encourage immigrant integration in three categories: selection/admission, economic and social integration, and civic and political integration.


  • Co-directors: Christian Joppke (University of Bern) and Leslie Seidle (Senior Program Advisor, Forum of Federations)
  • Australia: Lesleyanne Hawthorne, University of Melbourne
  • Belgium: Marco Martiniello, Université de Liège
  • Canada: Keith Banting, Queen’s University
  • Germany: Michael Bommes, University of Osnabrück/Holger Kolb, Sachverstaendigenrat deutscher Stiftungen für Integration und Migration [Expert Council of German Foundations on Migration and Integration]
  • Switzerland: Gianni D’Amato, Université de Neuchâtel
  • Spain: Ricard Zapata-Barrero, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
  • United States: Gary Freeman/Stuart Tendler, University of Texas at Austin


Seven events have been organized under this program:

  • A workshop of the program collaborators, Berlin, Germany on February 22, 2010
  • a conference on “Immigrant Integration in Switzerland”, Bern on February 24 and 25, 2010 (with the Federal Office for Migration)
  • a workshop on “Immigration Policies in Spain” in Barcelona on March 26, 2010 (with Institut d’Estudis Autonòmics)
  • a conference in Brussels on November 29 and 30, 2010
  • a conference on “Immigrant Integration and Canadian Federalism: Exploring the Issues,” in Toronto on January 28, 2011
  • a seminar on “Immigrant Integration in Federal Systems: A Comparative Perspective and Recent Trends from Spain” in Saragossa, Spain on November 29, 2011 (with Manuel Gimenez Abad Foundation), and
  • a conference on “Immigrant Integration and Multilevel Governance: Exploring the Issues” in Berlin, Germany on 24 February, 2012 (with the Research Unit of the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration).

The project has led to the preparation of a comparative volume, Immigrant Integration in Federal Countries, edited by Christian Joppke and Leslie Seidle. It has been published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in mid-2012.

For further inquiries please contact Leslie Seidle at